Assessment Integrity

Course Design

To minimize the potential for cheating, take strong measures with your course design.

  1. Incorporate multiple low-stakes assessments. In addition to, for example, three main exams, have students take multiple graded pretests online throughout the term. Requiring students to complete multiple assignments online throughout the term can make it more difficult for students to recruit others to help them.
  2. Balance formative and summative assessments. In addition to a large summative exam at the end of the course, include frequent formative assessments (Lancaster & Clarke, 2015). Formative assessments can provide students with an ongoing opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge without the pressure introduced by a final exam that accounts for a substantial portion of their grade.
  3. Build a relationship with students. When instructors are responsive to student questions, provide substantive feedback throughout a course, and find other ways to interact with students, they are less likely to cheat. It matters if students believe an instructor cares about them (Bluestein, 2015).

Prepare Students for Assessments

Students who are better prepared for assessments have a reduced incentive to cheat. The following strategies can better prepare students for success:

  1. Clarify for students the relevance of a particular assessment and how it relates to the weekly and larger course learning outcomes.
  2. Provide examples of work that meet your expectations, along with specific evaluation criteria.
  3. Have students create study guides as a precursor assignment to summative assessments. Study guides can be a nongraded activity, like a game or practice quiz, or provided as a learning resource.

Summative Assessment Design

Summative assessments are used to evaluate students’ mastery of course concepts. The following are strategies that can be used to ensure academic integrity:

  1. Create mini-case studies requiring application of course content.
  2. Do not reveal correct answers on quizzes or exams.
  3. Random selection from a question pool.
  4. Randomize question sequence and answer choices.
  5. Show only one question at a time.
  6. Rotate or modify one-third of objective-type questions on each exam.
  7. Time limits. Schedule exams for a specific day and time and close the exam when the allotted time period for work expires.
  8. Students can access the online exam only one time.

Formative Assessment Design

Formative assessments are used to provide ongoing feedback to students and regular assessment data to instructors. The following are some formative assessments that can be used either online or in-person to quickly assess student understanding (Brusini, 2020):

  1. Surveys. Surveys can be given at the beginning, middle, and/or end of the semester, to gauge where students are in their knowledge and awareness of the course content.
  2. Minute Papers. These are very short writing activities in which students summarize the main ideas of a lecture or class activity, usually at the end of class.
  3. Polling. Students respond as a group to questions posed by the instructor using technology such as Poll Everywhere, or polls from the web conferencing and the learning management tools.
  4. End-of-Class Survey Prompt. At the end of class, students respond to a short prompt given by the instructor usually having to do with that day’s lesson, such as, “What readings were most helpful to you in preparing for today’s lesson?”
  5. Muddiest Point. Students share with the faculty what they think was the most confusing or difficult part of a lesson.
  6. Concept Map. Students create a diagram of how concepts relate to each other.
  7. First Draft. Students submit a first draft of a paper or assignment and receive targeted feedback before submitting a final draft.
  8. Peer Review. Peer evaluation is supportive of increasing engagement rates among students in online courses. Receiving peer feedback which is guided by a rubric, can support students’ understanding of the content and their ability to provide relevant feedback.
  9. Student Self-Reflection. Student reflections serve to assist faculty to understand what students have learned and what needs to be covered in more depth or in a different way as the semester unfolds. The student reflections also allows faculty to “know” the students’ way of learning, explaining, their writing style, and understanding as a guide for early alerts and content knowledge (Wheeler & Waltje, 2020).
  10. Multiple Low Grade Quizzes. Multiple quizzes to encourage reading and understanding of the course material. Provides faculty with an understanding of student’s engagement and content knowledge across the semester.

Testing Practices

The following are strategies you may use to support students as they prepare for and take online exams:

  1. Open book exams. Because there is no one watching the students take the exam it is important to provide just enough time that a student who knows the information would have the appropriate amount of time to be successful on the exam, and not too much time for students who have not prepared for the exam to search for the answers.
    • Be sure to create individual, extended timing settings for students who are approved for testing accommodations (accessibility support).
  2. Plan for technical issues. Offer a practice exam with a few questions, not pertaining to the actual test, that would provide students with the chance to become familiar with the online testing features. This will also avoid future issues with students who are not familiar with the online exam technology.
    • Frequent quizzing has also been shown to reinforce student understanding. In Canvas, you’re able to randomize questions in quizzes, making cheating more difficult.
  3. Security. If a student needs a second attempt after the exam has closed for the class, increase the attempts to ‘2’ and set the ‘Require password’ setting. Provide the password only to the student(s) that need the extra attempt.

Analytics: Student Engagement and Early Alerts

There are various analytic tools that instructors can use to track student engagement with course content:

  1. Student Participation Data. Several actions define participation in Canvas and collectively describe events where a user takes an action within a course. Faculty can track and report participation for students using the Canvas Course – New Analytics (video) tool for student online activity.
  2. Canvas Analytics. The following student actions in Canvas will generate analytics course participation:
    • Announcements: posts a new comment to an announcement
    • Assignments: views and submits an assignment
    • Assignments: posts feedback to a grade or rubric score
    • Collaborations: loads a collaboration to view/edit a document
    • Discussions: views and posts a new comment to a discussion
    • Pages: edits a page or clicked on a page
    • Quizzes: clicked or starts taking a quiz
    • Quizzes: submits and reviews a quiz
  3. Video Analytics. Faculty can view analytics using the Kaltura recording tool of students who have viewed videos posted in a Canvas course. Quizzes can also be used as analytic tools:
    • The In-Video Quiz (IVQ) feature also allows faculty to view analytics about the video quiz and the students who have taken it.
    • Embedding quizzes inside of Kaltura video as a knowledge check for students watching a video.
    • Creating a Canvas quiz that is dependent on students having watched a Kaltura video recording or attended a Zoom session.


Bluestein, S. A. (2015). Connecting student-faculty interaction to academic dishonesty. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 39(2), 179–191.

Brusini, A. (2020, March 4). Quick tips: Formative assessment strategies. Johns Hopkins University: The Innovative Instructor Blog.

Lancaster, T., & Clarke, R. (2015). Contract cheating: The outsourcing of assessed student work. In T. A. Bretag (Ed.), Handbook of Academic Integrity (pp. 1–14).

Wheeler, A., & Waltje, J. (2020, July 29). Recording and/or writing? Weighing the benefits of reflective practices. Faculty Focus.